(Bloomberg) -- Beijing-based Li Auto Inc. launched its first pure electric vehicle after several months delay Friday as it seeks to gain an edge in China — the world’s most crowded and competitive car market. 

The seven-seater multipurpose vehicle, dubbed Mega, can drive as far as 710 kilometers (441 miles) on a single charge and comes with a battery from Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd., Li Auto Chief Executive Officer Li Xiang said at a media briefing. A charge of just 12 minutes will allow the car to drive up to 500 kilometers, he added.

Deliveries will begin mid-month and the model only has one version that starts at 559,800 yuan ($77,800). Li Auto first showcased the Mega at the Guangzhou Auto Show in November and said then it should be ready by December.

“This is a car specifically designed for large families,” Li said on Friday. He said the Mega is the world’s largest electric vehicle in mass production. 

Founded in 2015, Li Auto has to date been selling ‘extended range’ electric vehicles only — or battery-powered cars with a gasoline engine that kicks in to recharge the cell when it’s out of juice. While cumulative shipments number more than 680,000 and 2023 was a record year for deliveries, recent monthly sales have been trending downward.

Chinese automakers are competing fiercely on both ends of the EV spectrum. BYD Co., for example, has its entry-level Dolphin and last week debuted its most expensive one — a 1.68 million yuan high-performance electric supercar pitted against gas-guzzlers offered by rivals such as Ferrari NV and Lamborghini.

Meanwhile, growth in China’s EV market is slowing. Shipments of new-energy vehicles to dealers, including both pure-electric cars and plug-hybrids, are projected to increase 25% to 11 million units this year, China’s Passenger Car Association has said. While still expanding, that’s a slowdown from 36% in 2023 and 96% in 2022. 

And although battery EVs still outsell plug-in hybrids by more than two to one in the country, according to data from the China Automotive Technology and Research Center, consumers are showing an increasing preference for plug-in hybrids, which solve range anxiety and are more affordable than battery-only cars.

Li Auto, which just reported its first annual profit, also needs to fund a large amount of capital expenditure in coming years. The company plans to invest more than 6 billion yuan to set up 5,000 supercharging stations that it will operate.

Other features of Mega include three OLED screens, an AI-based interactive voice command system, professional audio speakers, seats with in-built massagers and a car fridge. The vehicle, like Li Auto’s existing models, will be equipped with assisted driving technology. 

Mega will compete with rival models like Xpeng Inc.’s X9 MPV, which starts at 359,800 yuan. Aito, an electric car brand developed by Huawei Technologies Co. and Seres Group Co., also has a lineup that includes extended range models. Aito sales surpassed Li Auto’s in January.

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